Village crew in Britain’s biggest yacht race event

The all-Braunton crew prepare to take on Britain's biggest yacht race.
The all-Braunton crew prepare to take on Britain's biggest yacht race.

AN all-Braunton crew is preparing to take on Britain’s biggest yacht race.

Being a Braunton resident is the only prerequisite for members of a crew who will be flying the flag for the North Devon village in this year’s P Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

Skipper John Priddle and his six-strong crew - Wayne McGrail, Stephen Van Vliet, Sean Evans, Andrew Tizzard,Gareth Jess and Vanessa Charles - will be among some 16,000 sailors set to tackle the famous 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight on Saturday, June 30.

The Round the Island Race has become one of Britain’s biggest sporting participation events, attracting thousands of amateur sailors - from families, groups of friends and colleagues – with 1,700 boats poised to take to the water this year.

For the second year running, John, 56, and his crew will be chartering Easy Tiger, a Bavaria 37 from Hayling Sea School in Hampshire.

John admits the Braunton team, who include a self-employed builder and a schoolteacher, are not trying to win this year’s race. Rather, they prefer to enjoy the shared experience of the challenge ahead.

John, who will be competing for the fifth time, said it’s definitely the taking part that matters: “Last time was the best result ever. If I can improve on that I’ll be completely happy. But, to be honest, I’ll be completely happy just as long as I get round and we all have a good time!”

The race gives amateur sailors a unique chance to race alongside some of sailing’s most iconic figures, including three-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson and Dame Ellen MacArthur, while Formula One star Lewis Hamilton and comedian Dave Spikey are some of the other big names from the worlds of sport and entertainment that have taken part in the race in recent years.

With the starting cannon being fired off the Royal Squadron at Cowes at 6am, most boats will finish the iconic race in between eight and 10 hours.

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